The matchup fans least expected to happen is set to face off in Toronto on Tuesday night. Here is my matchup analysis as well as both teams X-Factors.
Florida Panthers –
The Panthers completed one of the biggest upsets in NHL history as they took down the Boston Bruins in game 7. Although it wasn’t pretty, the Panthers pulled out 4 wins against the president trophy winners. Some fans seem to be writing off the Panthers in this series but that is furthest from the truth. A team can not “Fluke” their way to 4 wins against a great team. It takes skill and sometimes it isn’t always the prettiest hockey.
These are the players that I think will be the biggest X-Factors for the Panthers.
Matthew Tkachuk – Matthew Tkachuk is the type of physical player who knows how to get under his opponent’s skin and is also a great player. Tkachuk was a big part of the Panthers upset win against the Bruins. If the Panthers want to continue their success in the playoffs Tkachuk will play a significant role.
Sergei Bobrovsky- Sergei Bobrovsky came into the series against the Bruins and also played a key role for the Panthers. If the Panthers want Succese against the Maple Leafs they will need Bobrovsky to be lights out.
The Panthers entire lineup will need to be great this series. With the depth of the Leafs they will need to be strong and steady all throughout the lineup.
Toronto Maple Leafs –
The Leafs have advanced to the second round in 19 years but their players still aren’t satisfied. The question is, can the Leafs turn their attention back to the series after their post-series celebration? There’s no doubt the Leafs have the better team and depth but it all comes down to how each player performs.
Core 5- We’ve seen what the Leafs Core 5 can do and now fans are expecting nothing less. The Leafs core 5 combined for 42 points in 6 games against the Lightning. They will look to continue their momentum against the Panthers. The challenging part for these players will be the Panthers physical play.
Ilya Samsonov- Ilya Samsonov had some great moments in the series vs the Lightning. The Leafs will need him to keep that great play going in this series. Although Samsonov had some questionable goals against, that happens with all goalies and it all depends on how the team and the goalie responds.
Newfound Grit- The grit we have seen from the Leafs in the last series is what will be very important in this series. The Panthers know how t play with grit and they will get to the grit areas and make the Leafs have a difficult time. The Leafs played against one of the roughest 4th line’s in the league so it shouldn’t be too tough of a challenge.
Staying out of the box- Throughout the Lightning series the Leafs found them taking unnecessary penalties. The Leafs need to work on not taking foolish penalties. The Panthers players know how to get under their opponent’s skin, so it’s important for the Leafs to not take penalties off of their emotions.
Overall I do think this series will go to 6 or 7 games. On paper the Leafs are the better team but I can see the Panthers playing a similar play style and stealing this series. With all that I mentioned, I believe the Leafs will win the series in 6 games. Let’s see what the other BSP writers had to say about the series as well
Jack Titter – A series between two teams that, no doubt, have to feel on top of the hockey world right now. These teams will enter game one just oozing momentum, adrenaline, and excitement. First, the Maple Leafs have slayed their demons and won their first playoff series since 2004. Then there’s Florida coming off one of the biggest upsets in NHL history, defeating the Boston Bruins in an overtime game seven. Both teams are looking to advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time in over twenty years. While this Toronto team is no doubt the best team they’ve
put out in years, what Florida did to Boston wasn’t a fluke. The Panthers found their game and if they can bring that to this series against Toronto, it’ll be very difficult for the Leafs to get much
generated offensively. If the Leafs aren’t careful, they might find themselves spending most games defending in their own zone from the onslaught that is the Panthers’ forecheck. Both
teams have more hope than ever before and this matchup will likely be the most entertaining second-round series this year. Florida in 6
Jacob Walters – I’m a firm believer that the Maple Leafs will go on a deep run. Toronto’s seen an offensive explosion led by none other than Auston Matthews and Ilya Samsonov has shown he can steal a game. Florida has their own superstar in Matthew Tkachuk, who leads a star-studded offense in the Sunshine State. However, I feel like Toronto wants to do more than get past the first round. Maple Leafs in 6
Erin Sauceda – The Panthers were definitely the underdog when it came to the first round as they were competing against the Bruins. They decided to prove people wrong and won in game seven, 4-3. That being said, the Leafs winning was a victory and celebration in itself. I have faith in them winning in the second round as well. Leafs in 6.
/ 4 hours ago
As the confetti fell in victory lane in Daytona on the Hendrick Motorsports No....